“Based on the early indications from this Piceance discovery, we’re talking about the potential to ultimately more than double our current 18 trillion cubic feet equivalent of 3P reserves,” Hill said.
The Niobrara and Mancos shales are generally located at depths of 10,000 to 13,000 feet. The Williams Fork is a shallower formation, generally located at depths of 6,000 to 9,000 feet. In the Piceance Basin, WPX holds an average working interest of 66 percent in the Niobrara and Mancos shales.
WPX plans to drill at least two more horizontal Niobrara wells in the Piceance Basin this year, pending permits, starting within a six-mile radius of the first well. This additional work will help WPX evaluate how productive the formation is across the basin. Other operators also are delineating the extent of the resource on the eastern and western margins of the basin.
WPX’s first Niobrara horizontal well is located on the company’s existing Piceance Valley acreage in Garfield County. It was drilled to a total vertical depth of 10,200 feet with a 4,600-foot horizontal lateral.Drilling operations commenced in August 2012 during which the company successfully recovered 535 feet of continuous core. Completion operations, including 17 frac stages, were completed in December. WPX previously drilled a vertical Niobrara test well in late 2011 that yielded the impetus for drilling the first horizontal well to gain additional data about the productivity of the formation. Steven G. Natali, senior vice president of exploration for WPX, commented, “As we study what our geoscience and operations teams have achieved in the Niobrara and Mancos shales, we’re seeing hydrocarbon saturation across tremendous thickness in a highly over-pressurized environment. These shales are located directly underneath our current Williams Fork production in the Piceance. “Advances in horizontal drilling and the way that our completions engineers apply multi-stage fracture technology means that much of this gas can eventually be brought to the surface at an economic rate,” Natali added.